Punk Catholic Thought of the Week XVIII
Did you know that no matter how much research you do before you buy a car, you'll read more about your brand and model after you've bought it? This has something to do with convincing yourself that, yes, you bought the right car, after all. Ever since car marketers discovered this, they've spent millions of dollars each year just to make people feel good about their cars.
Now let's talk about similar marketing that goes on to make Catholics feel good about the Catholic Church.
(That's the Latin for "Popemobile")
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with feeling good about being Catholic, in the same way that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with feeling good about owning a good car. But both are completely subjective; we can do without them entirely.
Sometimes we feel bad about being Catholic--or ashamed--or even angry. Sometimes we don't really think about it at all. None of this changes anything--and it certainly doesn't mean we're any better or any worse than fellow Catholics who are walking, talking, annoying (but that's also subjective) press releases.
Furthermore, there's a trap in wanting to feel good all the time, especially when it comes to the shadier parts of the Church. A few weeks ago, my friend Betty Duffy wrote of listening to a historian put the Inquisition in perspective: it wasn't responsible for millions of deaths, but a mere 3000--or if you want more perspective, a piddling average of twelve per year. Her response: "What about that is supposed to make me feel better?"
Well, all Catholics could stand to feel a little better about an event that is often thrown in our faces--and which none of us alive today has the power to change. And objectively, three thousand is better than millions: the hard facts, especially, are always better than majorly exaggerated figures. By all means, let us put history in perspective . . . just not the perspective of one who wants desperately to feel good about being Catholic.
The Church is what She is, folks. She doesn't need our marketing as much as we ourselves do.
Image Sources: a) Popemobile, b) Sedia Gestatoria